SB Nation's 2013 NFL writers mock draft is underway. I am serving as the general manager for the Detroit Lions, and my pick was made public on Friday afternoon. I went with BYU defensive end Ezekiel Ansah, and three main factors went into my decision to take him with the No. 5 overall pick:
1. Eric Fisher wasn't available
The top player on Pride Of Detroit's big board is Central Michigan offensive tackle Eric Fisher. He was also my top choice for the No. 5 overall pick, but the Philadelphia Eagles went with him at No. 4. Texas A&M offensive tackle Luke Joeckel was the first overall pick, meaning the top two tackles were both gone. I did give some thought to taking Oklahoma offensive tackle Lane Johnson, but he's not on the same level as Fisher and Joeckel. As a result, I set my sights on other positions.
2. Ansah was the best player available at a position of need
With the top two tackles gone, this pick came down to Ansah and Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner. Taking the top cornerback in the draft was an intriguing option, especially considering you could probably pick up a solid defensive end at the top of the second round. I just think Ansah's got a higher upside in the long run. Milliner might contribute more in 2013, but you can't base a pick strictly on immediate impact. I say this knowing full well that Martin Mayhew and Jim Schwartz are entering a make-or-break season with the Lions, but you can't draft a player fifth overall with only the short term in mind.
3. Defensive end is the Lions' biggest need
Teams also shouldn't draft based strictly on filling needs, as you don't want to reach for a player just because he plays a certain position. However, it does factor into the process of deciding on a player, and in this case it put Ansah over the top when it was decision time for me. The Lions have Chris Houston set to start at cornerback, and the other starting job could be filled by one of last year's draft picks or someone like Ron Bartell. At defensive end, however, the Lions have only Jason Jones, Willie Young and Ronnell Lewis. Defensive end is in much worse shape than cornerback, and while bolstering the secondary with Milliner is a nice idea, he will only be able to do so much if you can't generate any pass rush.
I suppose it could be a lot worse than having to pick between Ansah and Milliner for the Lions, but the best-case scenario for them is without a doubt landing one of the top offensive tackles. Yes, the Lions just drafted Riley Reiff a year ago, but three starting spots are vacant on the offensive line right now. The Lions have a lot of faith in the ability of Jason Fox and Corey Hilliard to take over at right tackle, and Reiff is probably ready to start at left tackle. However, if you want to turn offensive line into a strength, adding someone like Fisher into the mix seems to be the way to go.
When the actual 2013 NFL Draft rolls around in April, who do you want the Lions to pick if Joeckel and Fisher are both gone?